Woman: History and Critique of a Polemical Concept


The book follows the movements of the concept of “woman” from the Early modern to the post-colonial age, through the words of women who challenged its patriarchal definition. The concept of “woman” is doubly polemical. It affirms sexual difference as political difference, while denying the universal character of modern political concepts which represent the unity of the political and social order, exposing its fundamental division. At the same time, “woman” is a concept marked by differences ‒ of "race", class, culture ‒ that continually redetermine its content. To make the history of the concept of “woman” is thus to affirm a different perspective on history itself, a partial perspective that lays the groundwork for the feminist critique of the present.

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Paola Rudan, Ph.D. (2007), University of Bologna, is Professor of History of Political Thought at that university. She has published monographs on Simón Bolívar’ and Jeremy Bentham’, and several articles on the history of women’s political thought and feminist political theory.
Preface: a Fracture in History


1On the Threshold of a New Order
 1 The Announcement of a Difference

 2 Nature in Motion

 3 On the Brink of Subversion

2The Social Production of Difference
 1 The Woman and the Others

 2 The Matrix of Domination

 3 The Black Word

 4 The Woman in the Social Factory

3A Global Part
 1 Death of a Universal

 2 On the Margin

 3 The Difference


All interested in the history of political thought, women’s history, feminist political theory, gender studies.
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